Daniel Ricciardo set the pace in the opening practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix as just 0.088s separated the top three drivers.
On a circuit where Red Bull is expected to take the fight to Ferrari and Mercedes, it was Ricciardo who came out of the traps quickest with a 1m17.613s set on the soft compound tire. In a close session, Sebastian Vettel was second on a 1m17.692s, just 0.008s clear of the second Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
Vettel was the only driver in the top six to set his best time on ultrasofts compared to softs, and the trio were over a quarter of a second clear of the rest of the field, although Verstappen did suffer a spin at Turn 1 when he lost the rear mid-corner and swapped ends.
Kimi Raikkonen was fourth fastest for Ferrari — who took a one-two in Budapest last year — just under 0.1s clear of championship leader Lewis Hamilton in fifth. Valtteri Bottas was over 0.4s adrift of his teammate in sixth place, before a sizable gap back to the Haas of Romain Grosjean.
The two Haas cars — armed with a significant power unit update from Ferrari this weekend — started strongly with Kevin Magnussen in tenth place, separated from his teammate by the two Renaults of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz. Magnussen was just 0.059s slower than Sainz on a tight and twisty Hungaroring circuit less suited to the VF-18 than previous venues.
Despite finishing eighth overall, Hulkenberg’s session was as short one as the German completed just 14 laps before his car switched off at Turn 4. The Renault coasted to Turn 5 before coming to a stop, with the team investigating the issue during the final half hour of the session.
Sauber is also running the updated Ferrari power unit — comprising a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H — but had a less competitive session. Antonio Giovinazzi was down in 18th but 0.4s clear of Marcus Ericsson who was slowest after a number of errors. Ericsson spun at the final corner after touching the grass on entry, and then later dropped it again at Turn 4 and flat-spotted his tires.
Ericsson wasn’t alone in spinning at the final corner, with Brendon Hartley swapping ends at the same point on his final timed lap of the session, having been set to improve on his 13th place behind teammate Pierre Gasly in 11th and Fernando Alonso.